Simonetta Di Pippo
Director of HSF

Simonetta Di Pippo

Simonetta Di Pippo was appointed as the ESA Director of Human Spaceflight (D/HSF) in April 2008. Mrs Di Pippo joined ESA on 15 May and, after a period of familiarisation alongside D/HME until 14 June, she assumes responsibility as D/HSF from 15 June.

Mrs Di Pippo is an astrophysicist and, before joining ESA, worked for the Italian space agency (ASI) since 1986, even before it was actually formally established in 1998. She has a unique blend of technical, managerial and institutional experiences related to scientific, human spaceflight and exploration missions.

During her career she has held several key positions in fields such as Earth Observation, Advanced Studies, Robotic Systems and the International Space Station (ISS) Programme (as a delegate to the supervising Board since 1988) with broad responsibilities in programme management and international relations.

Between 1999 and 2002 she acted as ASI’s Secretary General. During that period she chaired the ESA Board of Potential Participating States preparing the European Exploration Programme and she was entrusted the responsibility to coordinate the first mission of an Italian astronaut on a Russian Soyuz (Roberto Vittori’s 'Marco Polo' mission, April 2002). Similarly she was designated, in 2007, by the Italian government to supervise the ESA/ASI Esperia mission of astronaut Paolo Nespoli as crew member of STS-120 that delivered the Node-2 to the ISS.

At international level, she was one of the founders of both the International Lunar Exploration and the International Mars Exploration Working Groups (ILEWG and IMEWG) and was appointed by NASA as international Team Member of the Mars Architecture Study. Her familiarity with international cooperation and her visionary approach to space exploration led her to be instrumental in creating a group of 14 space agencies providing a coordination framework for space exploration as a global endeavour.

In 2002 she became Director of ASI’s space science and exploration department (Osservazione dell’Universo). In 2005 she was appointed as Chair of ESA’s Board supervising large space programmes such the European contribution to the ISS, the microgravity research activities and the European 'Aurora' Exploration Programme with its ExoMars mission.

She was knighted (Cavaliere Ufficiale al Merito) by the President of the Italian Republic in 2006. She authored several scientific and technical papers and a book. She contributes regularly to outreach activities through interviews and items both on TV and in the press.

D/HSF is responsible for the European contribution to the ISS, ESA's programmes in life and physical sciences, their promotion and exploitation as well as the definition, preparation and implementation of future European human spaceflight activities, in LEO and beyond (human exploration) and the build-up of European capabilities (space infrastructure, transportation, ground segment). Moreover D/HSF contributes in the definition of a global cooperation scenario for human exploration also through the establishment of the European exploration strategic plan.

Last update: 11 February 2010

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